Acid Mothers Temple at Cafe Oto: Jazz freakout and rock’n’roll history

At work they asked how had I heard of this band, or any of the other weird things I listen to. I  don’t recall how I heard of the Acid Mothers Temple but on Tuesday I finished work early to head into London to see them.

The opening act was Satoshi Yamada (aka / HI / ZO / U / BU / TU ) . Dressed all in black with long black hair wrapped round his face, it could’ve been Cousin It from the Addams Family. He had all the lights turned off but invited photos and the flashes created an interesting effect. Mumbling, often in Japanese, he eventually took an amplified drill to a cello. The noise was fantastic. High pitched drones faded in and out of a grind that drew whoops and hollers.

First off, the Acid Mothers look great. They look like the coolest rock band, not necessarily what you expect at Cafe Oto, but hey. The start was all out noise following an introduction suggesting tonight they would be a jazz band. As it turned out it felt more like a history of rock’n’roll via Miles Davis. At times they played a space jazz reminiscent of Bitches Brew. Bass player and vocalist Tsuyama Atsushi, ended an extended piece with an outrageous blues man impression, at other times he stood on one leg playing clarinet out the side of his mouth. I wondered how many of the younger Cafe Oto audience got the Jethro Tull reference.

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A fantastic improvised guitar led piece grew from Tsuyama reading a flyer for another show handed out to the queue pre-show. As the guitars slowed, he continued to read about the gig, that includes John Paul Jones in a new band. Often he apologized “sorry we cannot play jazz, we are just a psychadelic rock’n’roll band”. This was greeted with laughter and cheers. Tonight Cafe Oto rocked out. After asking “are we an experimental band”, the answer came back “No”. Tonight, that was accurate, but this was a band having fun and inviting us into how they hear music. They combined space jazz, blues, noise, tomfoolery and a little bit of Tubular Bells, yes really, and it made me smile.